How to Use Focus Stacking for Sharper Photos

When you need a photo with deep depth of field that is sharp across the entire frame, it might not be possible to do so in just one shot. Focus stacking is a technique that allows you to get sharper images with deeper depth of field. It is a relatively easy and straightforward technique, and this fantastic video tutorial will show you everything you need to know to use it for your own work. 

Coming to you from Nick Page, this excellent video tutorial will show you how to focus stack an image using Photoshop. Focus stacking is a commonly used technique in genres that require deep depth of field with high levels of sharpness through the frame, such as macro and landscape work. The problem is that past a certain aperture, you will start to run into issues with diffraction and will actually start to lose sharpness, while using the hyperfocal distance isn't always a good solution, particularly when you have a close foreground element. This is where focus stacking, or combining multiple images of the same scene taken at different focus distances, comes into play. It's a tremendously useful technique and isn't particularly time-consuming. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Page. 

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5 Comments

Dan Umberger's picture

Well done and very helpful, Nick. Two questions. I wonder why PS isn't set up to take care of focus breathing automatically when focus stacking is performed? Second, do you think that dedicated focus stacking software like Zerene or Helicon have any advantages vs. current-day Photoshop?

Michael Dougherty's picture

I bought Helicon quite a while ago and when I went to use it, my license had expired so I couldn't use it any more. Not real happy about this.

Eric Robinson's picture

There is an option to buy either an annual licence or a lifetime one. If you go for the cheaper annual option then it will last but one year.
That said HF is way better than PS for focus stacking, especially for Macro where PS is a bit of a pain.
Great video, clear as a bell and very well presented. I’m definitely going to check out Nick’s other videos.

jim hughes's picture

Helicon focus is da bomb. It can handle stacks of complex objects that would take you the rest of your life to merge by hand. And it's manual touch-up interface is excellent.

Henry Canyons's picture

Thank you. This was very helpful.